When it comes to decorating, it's time to light up. And you
don't have to flip a switch or plug anything in. Candles are nice in any
season, but they can add an especially warm and festive glow to the holidays.
Susan Pepper knows this. The Valley Stream mother of three relaxes after a
hectic day with the soothing aromas of scented candles - raspberry, honeydew,
vanilla and ocean mist are among her favorites. She has the perfect job for a
candle aficionado. She's a consultant for PartyLite, a candle company based in
Massachusetts. "When I come home and I light my three- wick candles, I could
melt like the candle," she says. "It soothes me. They light up the house and
they smell good."
But at this time of the year, as Hanukkah draws near, Pepper admits she
goes a little crazy with candles - particularly in the blue and white motif
that reflects the flag of Israel. Tapers and tea lights on the tables. Votives
on the windowsills. Big candles, little candles. Candles in stands and candles
in sconces. Candles in the fireplace, candles on the mantel.
Candles, says interior designer Lynn Gerhard, are "like twinkling stars in
the night sky. I love the ambience they add to a room. And I happen to think
that little bit of sparkle adds energy to the room." She uses candles in her
own home in Islip.
"I like to use a lot of candles on the mantel in front of the mirror so it
looks like you have even more lights flickering," says Gerhard. "I put them on
the stoop and the walkway for people coming in. It's a very festive feeling."
That feeling may have something to do with the popularity of candles at
holiday time. Without a doubt, this season "is by far the busiest time of
year," says Susan Stockman, director of public relations for Yankee Candle, in
South Deerfield, Mass.
"There's something primal about candles," says Bob Sherman, a 30-year
veteran in the candle business who owns Bobby's Craft Boutique in Williston
Park and hosts the candle and soap-making discussion on www.about.com.
Gerhard agrees. "There's a sense of history that goes along with lighting
candles," she says. "People lived only by candlelight for a very long time. It
brings us back to our roots."
"If you think about it, we celebrate all of life's passages with candles,"
says Lyn Peterson, author of Lyn Peterson's Real Life Decorating (Creative
Homeowner Press, $21.95) and a consultant to the National Candle Association in
Washington, D.C. "Candles are the perfect way to combine tradition with the
newest trends. They come in an almost infinite variety of up-to-the-minute
colors and designs, while also capturing the traditional spirit." One of her
suggestions is to jazz things up with bold contemporary hues such as plum,
berry and fuschia. Or tweak the classic Christmas palette by using apple green
and lipstick red.
But whatever your traditions or color scheme, candles can light up your
decor and warm your holidays. Susan Goffman sticks with neutral tones, like
cream and white, to dress up the dining room buffet in her Sands Point home.
Then she adds a splash of seasonal color - surrounding the candles with
cranberries and pinecones. She uses candelabra instead of overhead lighting for
ambience and mirrors as place mats to reflect the shimmering light. "I like
the luminescence, the reflection," she says.
As Pepper and Goffman can attest, decorating with candles is as easy as
mixing and matching colors, sizes and shapes. Candles know no boundaries - you
can use them in the bedroom, bath or kitchen - as long as you keep safety in
mind. Fragrant candles in the foyer offer a sweet welcome to family and
friends, and the scents of pine, cranberry, juniper or gingerbread are just the
thing to make your home feel cozy during the cold winter.
Here are some ideas for using candles to add sparkle to your home this
season. But once again, remember to play it safe:
Make a shimmering centerpiece with pillar candles of varying heights on a
pretty tray or platter.
Frame classic red and green candles with a Christmas wreath laid flat on a
Place candy-cane-striped candles on a silver tray or mirror and circle them
with red pepperberries and holly leaves.
Tie a green or red satin ribbon around the base of a candlestick and let
the ends cascade onto the mantel or table.
Decorate gold, white and silver candles with costume jewelry. Surround the
base of a candle with rhinestones and crystals, or wrap the candle with a
string of fake pearls.
Create a Mexican-inspired look with terra-cotta candles displayed in
punched tin holders, or use rustic wooden candlesticks and chile-pepper wreaths.
Make a reflecting-pool centerpiece by filling a large bowl with floating
candles. Surround the bowl with holly or pillar candles.
Spell out "joy" or "peace" or any holiday wish using clear glass votive
Place a dozen white pillar candles on bricks set at different heights to
replace the glow of burning embers in the fireplace.
Line your walkway, patio or front porch with luminarias - special paper
bags with cut-out shapes that are highlighted by the candles' glow.
Debbe Geiger is a freelance writer.
Candles are a fire hazard only if used improperly. The National Candle
Association offers these safety tips:
Keep burning candles away from flammable objects, including other
Keep burning candles within sight, and out of reach of
children and pets.
Trim candlewicks to � inch before lighting. Long or crooked wicks cause
uneven burning and dripping. Put matches away.
Burn candles in well-
ventilated rooms, but avoid placing them near open windows or drafts.
Place candles on heat-
resistant surfaces designed for candle use. Make sure the holder is large
enough to catch dripping wax.
Retire votives and other candles in containers when � inch of unmelted wax
remains. Blow out tapers and pillars when they're within 2 inches of the tops
of their holders.
Position candles at least 3 inches apart.
Extinguish candles with a snuffer or candle quencher so hot wax doesn't
splatter. Never use water.